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Blog of the Week: Passive Resistance

Passive Resistance

I think we’ve all had or seen a dog who just refused to walk, be it a Golden retriever refusing to leave the park or a small dog who has declined to walk on their own. One can imagine the embarrassment and frustration an owner goes through when dealing with passive resistance. In this article we will explore the many different ways a dog can display this type of unwanted behavior. We will also outline the proper techniques and timely praise that is needed to overcome this problem. So let us go over a few distinct ways a dog may use this passive tactic and how to turn it into active participation.

The most common display of passive resistance is by small dogs that refuse to walk, usually this is accidentally taught by the owner. As the dog puts the breaks on, it’s human nature to tend to unintentionally reward them, by picking them up or to give them attention in the attempt to encourage movement. Another form is in regards to getting into an area, like a car, bathtub, body of water or onto an object. More difficult but still considered a form of passive resistance is the refusal to get into a dog crate. Passive resistance isn’t typically caused by fear or anxiety like a lot of people assume but simply a dog stating their reluctance to do something. Think of it in terms of a child that’s reluctant to go to school, they may throw a tantrum or refuse to get their clothes on, all the while saying, “I don’t wanna go!”

The techniques that we use for these issues are simple. For the dog that likes to put on the brakes while on a walk, we recommend a slow tug and release of the leash while continuing to walk in the desired direction, at the first sign of the dog walking under their own power reward them (petting, treats, toy, or picking them up). With dogs who refuse to get into/onto an area, like a car, lead them up to the area (use the tug and release method if necessary), then apply slow leash pressure toward the area, don’t let the tension slack otherwise the dog will think you are tiring out and will redouble their effort to resist you, sometimes a well timed goose on the rear end makes this easier. Lavishly praise the dog when you are successful. Concerning dogs who are resistant to getting in the crate, apply the first two methods if needed, oftentimes I find putting treats, a kong toy full of goodies or even their dinner inside the crate makes the whole experience more palatable (don’t overload the crate with rewards and try different rewards each time to keep it fun and unpredictable).

It’s often surprising how easily these methods work. For tougher cases, remember we are always here to help. One of our experienced trainers will be able to customize our techniques to your own individual needs. Most often more determination and a quiet patience is required to be successful. Keep at it but most importantly have fun and take pride of every victory no matter how small.

– Josh Decker, Dog Trainer

Article written by Josh Decker

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Matthew Duffy is well known for his renowned dog training services, books and DVDs, and online video training sessions through memberships. Matthew uses "genuine control without the rigidity of formal commands." Bring on the dogs!